I have been stuck for about 4 years now. It has likely been more like 10 years. I can blame the dissolution of my marriage on Hurricane Matthew but the downward spiral happened years before. I spent six years putting lipstick on a pig. I ignored the signs of an absent partner and spent my days “being love and light.” I sat on the same couch, I made all his favorite meals, I invited him on my business trips, I tried to shoehorn myself into his heart in all manner of ways hoping we would turn the corner. He left anyway.
The last three and a half years have been spent trying to get free of him financially. At long last, yesterday, I am free. I stood at the mailbox and cried as I held the document that released me. The deed to my home is mine. I am free to do whatever I choose, whenever I want. It goes on the market this weekend. So now is the ending. As William Bridges writes, “Transition starts with an ending. This is paradoxical but true. This first phase of transition begins when people identify what they are losing and learn how to manage these losses. They determine what is over and being left behind, and what they will keep. These may include relationships, processes, team members or locations.” So now comes the ending and making these critical decisions of what must stay and what must go.
How to embrace endings and let go of the anchor:
What must go
Clutter is a distraction and weighs me down. I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her series on Netflix is inspiring as well. Marie is a joyful, delicate person. She is in tune to the spaces she enters and is incredibly upbeat. She walks people through all their flotsam and asks the simple question, “Does this spark joy?” Or as I like to think of it, “It’s a hell yes or a hell no.” Three years ago, purging my life of all things of and with my ex was easy. Most of it was “hell no.” Now that we have a property division and I am curating my belongs, I am even more brutal about what must go. Now I think it terms of “do I want to pay for this to be moved to the next place?” It was easy to hold onto an old couch or sauté pan if I didn’t have to transport it anywhere else. Now that I would have to move it? It’s a hell no. Ending is letting go of what weighs you down.
I am wrapped up in all the memories in this house. I am wrapped up in all the sunrise pictures I’ve posted on Facebook. I think of all the wild animals that have flown, crawled, slithered and walked their way into my view. I wait patiently every morning for the sunrise and whether it will be more magical than the last. I note the variety of birds that have flown by my lakefront backyard over the last seventeen years. The ospreys, Great Blue Herons, hummingbirds, Egrets, little blue herons, mallards, cardinals, woodpeckers and Bald Eagles. I reminisce and hope they will take one last bow before I leave, but treasure that I was here to experience it at all. There is the closet door that marked my children’s height and weight over ten years. The photos of holidays and celebrations over seventeen years. I am grateful that I experienced it all and so happy to have shared the memories with my children, friends and family. I am so happy that this home has sparked joy and I look forward to another family being able to create their own memories. Endings are about keeping the memories and moving on.
What will be
It was my coach, Tammi Wheeler, who wisely pointed out that I was entering “The Neutral Zone”. This is the uncomfortable place of stepping off a cliff and hoping for a parachute on the way down. Living with the decision that I am leaving this magical place. To be open to the possibilities of what will come. To trust myself that it’s as it should be and I will, as always, land on my feet in an even better place. As Bridges writes, “This is the time between the old reality and sense of identity and the new one. People are creating new processes and learning what their new roles will be. They are in flux and may feel confusion and distress. The neutral zone is the seedbed for new beginnings.” I am preparing myself for the new patterns and processes. I trust the Stoics’ Amor Fati (love of one’s fate) and keep a curious mind as to what the next adventure will be. Endings create possibility.
As I reflected on this experience with Tammi last week, I said that this house had been an anchor for seventeen years and it was time to let it go. I am excited and apprehensive as I take hold of the tiller of the boat and head out into open waters and new beginnings.